Despite losing the Africa champions league preliminary round first leg match at home to CNaPS, coach Frank Nuttall is optimistic that Gor Mahia can turn the tables on their Madagascan challengers.
“Having lost the first leg makes us the underdogs and we understand it will be a tough match. However, we also know that there is a good chance we can win and so the players will be giving their best,” he said.
“It will be a tall order for Gor Mahia. They have scored two goals in the last four matches.Nuttall admitted that the team is having difficulties converting the many chances they create and will need to work on it ahead of the weekend match.” said Nuttall to the Standard.
New signing Jacob Keli has yet to show the spark that made him a hot commodity two years ago. Which is surprising considering that he has been playing well for the national team. Perhaps the return of Ali Abondo who is scheduled to resume training on Wednesday will boost the team
When asked about the rift between him and goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch, Nuttall would not commit.
“He trained very well today and is fine. Like all CAF registered players, he remains in contention for selection this weekend,”
Jerim Onyango played well in his place and could very well be preferred between the posts in Madagascar. His return to the starting line-up has further motivated Jerim who spent most of 2015 on the bench.
“Its always good to be out there playing. I am happy with my performance in the two matches. But the most important thing is to have team work. It is not every day that we will all get playing time. Of course one gets disappointed when not fielded but for me it always gives me a challenge to work even harder to get better while at the same time it makes me learn from what the other keeper has done right” said Jerim to the Nation.
Understandably, there are frayed nerves amongst Gor Mahia fans and officials following the fiasco involving Frank Nuttall’s apparent firing. A source indicated to goal.com that the coach is not on speaking terms with the officials.
“The situation is very bad. Most of the elected officials don’t want anything to do with the coach because they feel he set them up against the fans,” said the source.
Having a club where EC members are not communicating with the head coach is no way to run a club especially considering the fact that Gor Mahia is facing a difficult season ahead.
In many ways, the club is starting afresh. They lost assistant coach Bobby Ogolla who took up the position of head coach at Ulinzi Stars. They also parted ways with Meddie Kagere, Michael Olunga and could also lose Ali Abondo who is now on trials with Cape Town Ajax of South Africa. Losing the three top strikers from last season means the club has to start building the attack from scratch. Coach Nuttall is well aware of the task ahead.
“Looking at the way we played against Bandari, I can say we played well and created numerous chances. We could have finished off the game in the first half even before Shakava (Haroun) was sent off, but unfortunately we did not take our chances,” Nuttall told Goal.
“We have a few days before the season proper kicks-off and we need to get that chemistry between the attackers and midfielders. We have to take our chances and avoid situations like the ones on Saturday. However, I am expecting a good season and hopefully we can successfully defend the title. ” said Nuttall
And Nuttall also has to deal with the fact that Khalid Aucho is still playing truant and Innocent Wafula’s whereabouts are unknown though team manager Jolawi Obondo assured fans that the duo would link up with the team this week. But even if Wafula arrives, the issue of his true nationality would need to be resolved first.
But Nuttall performed similar magic when the club lost several of its attacking options including Dan Sserunkuma, Godfrey Kizito, Rama Salim, Kevin Omondi, Timonah Wanyonyi and others in 2014.
Nuttall led the club to a historic season after losing key players and also had to deal with constant player go-slows.
Given support from officials and fans he can perform a similar feat and even better. So now is the time to put aside hostilities and work for the betterment of the club.
Fans will hope that the EC will realize that the request to Nuttall to take a 50% pay-cut was not reasonable. Here is coach who stayed with the club through difficulties while the likes of Zdravko Logarusic bailed out in mid-season.
Meanwhile details have emerged regarding how politicians Hassan Omar and Eliud Owalo prevailed upon Chairman Rachier to change his stance on Nuttall.
“We hosted the team to a luncheon in Mombasa (on Friday) and you could feel the tension brought by the absence of the coach and frustration from fans on social media,” Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar told the Nation.
“We talked to the chairman (Ambrose Rachier) and he was categorical the club couldn’t afford him. But we are talking about a good and experienced coach here and they don’t come cheap. I’m glad we have convinced both parties to negotiate the way forward.”
“I was bombarded by calls from supporters. They told me we don’t want to hear about the food, they just want the management to reinstate the coach,” said Eliud Owalo, a political analyst and an ardent Gor Mahia fan.
A report on various outlets suggests that Gor Mahia has fired highly successful coach Frank Nuttall.
“The reason for terminating my contract is because the executive committee of Gor Mahia club wanted to reduce my salary by 50% whereas my contract clearly provided for a 10% increase of my salary from January-2016.” said the letter.
This is insanity of several reasons:
Nuttall is arguably the best coach ever to coach this team. His record is far superior to any other coach be it Jack Johnson or Len Julians. He is certainly better than Bobby Williamson under whom Gor Mahia were stale and predictable (the “patia Sserunkuma” tactic). Not only that but his record in international matches such as against Esperance and in the CECAFA cup was abysmal.
And he is much better than Zdravko Logarusic under whom Gor Mahia hardly scored any goals, often winning 1-0. His record in Africa was nothing to write home about. ENPPI of Egypt easily dispatched Gor Mahia 3-0.
Under Nuttall Gor Mahia did not just win but also won in style scoring more goals than any other team in the Kenya premier league has ever scored. He took Gor Mahia to the brink of winning the CECAFA cup, a starke contrast to the previous year.
Leading a team to an unbeaten season is no easy task. A coach has to keep players motivated and focused even when the players are not receiving their salaries. Even after Gor Mahia had wrapped up the league title, Nuttall kept players focused.
Firing a coach only a few weeks before they are to play in the Africa champions league is ill advised. If they wanted Nuttall to take a paycut, this issue should have resolved in December.
No self respecting person will take a 50% pay cut.
Gor Mahia may live to regret this move. Back in 2014, the Kenya rugby brass fired coach Mike Friday who had led them to the world cup semi-finals and to a 5th place finish in the IRB sevens standings. They replaced him with South African Paul Treu and two expensive assistants. The net result was that Kenya finished 13th and was almost relegated. This proves that good coaches are not easy to find.
And while Kenya battled relegation, Mike Friday immediately joined a rival team and made them an instant success. Who is to say Nuttall cannot join a rival team either in the country or in the region.
You get the impression that Nuttall was liked by players. This could demoralize some players. But more importantly, it will disrupt the team just when it is about to take on CNAPs of Madagascar.
Worse still Nuttall could take his case to FIFA who almost always rules in favour of coaches and players whose contracts have been terminated early. Gor Mahia could end up having to pay his salary including the 10% raise, whether he coaches or not.
At this point the fans deserve an explanation from the club.
Gor Mahia coach Frank Nuttall has rubbished rumours that he is intent on leaving the club. Nuttall, who is only holiday in Scotland dismissed such reports as falsehoods.
On Saturday, Gor Mahia gave up a two goal lead agains Tusker a Afraha stadium and ended up settling for a 2-2 draw in the KPL Top 8 first leg match. Frank Nuttall has praised his charges. He however noted that the playing surface a Afraha stadium was less than ideal for Gor Mahia’s style of play.
“I am not happy with the way we threw away the two goal lead; it did not feel good at all. But we should also blame the pitch, its condition was not good and it could not allow us to play as we usually do.” said Nuttall to goal.com
Teams like Tusker and Ulinzi that thrive on physical play and long balls are better suited to playing on uneven surfaces.
Nuttall further indicated that due to injuries especially in defence, he has had to field players like Innocent Wafula and Eric Ochieng in unfamiliar defensive positions.
“We had to do without several players, that is why some played in unfamiliar positions. It is however, done, and our focus now is on the second leg.” he continued.
With Tusker being the home team, the two goals Gor Mahia scored will count as away goals which will offer Gor Mahia an advantage. A draw of 1-1 or 0-0 will see them through to the final.
“But two away goals is an advantage to us and we shall have to make sure we perform well in the return leg so that we can qualify,” he continued.
On a positive note, Ali Hassan Abondo appears to have regained the form that saw him top the scorers charts in the first leg. In the las two games, he has scored 3 goals, created an assist and forced a penalty.
Gor Mahia will take on Tusker in the return leg will be played in Nairobi on Wednesday 4 November.
Reports in a local paper suggested that Tusker have initiated talks with coach Frank Nuttall
Gor Mahia have been paying official salaries late causing some to lose patience. Already Mathew Ottamax has left and Frank Ouna stopped working months ago. All this makes it even more imperative that fans contribute financially to the club.
Coach Frank Nuttall admits it was not easy keeping the team together during the 2015 season. Though the team put on a splendid and united display each time they stepped on the field, things were not always rosy behind the scenes. Among other things, the players often boycotted training to protest unpaid salaries.
“We played under very difficult circumstances. Sometimes, I used to plead with the players to resume training after boycotting. I contemplated throwing in the towel in support of my players but considered many factors and had to tone down considering the club had no sponsor. I had no particular person to blame since I saw how the executive played a great role of striving to get money to sustain the team,” said Nuttall after the match.
Indeed Chairman Rachier must be given a lot of credit for keeping the team afloat.
Nuttall further praised Kogalo fans aka the green army for supporting the team both financially and on the terraces.
“In life nothing good comes on a silver platter. You have to struggle to realise your ambition or target. It was not easy sailing considering we had no sponsor. We kept on extending our begging bowl to everyone for help and I’m happy our fans gave us massive support. The green army came out in full support and that extra shilling they gave us pushed us to where we are now. Personally, I feel touched by their massive support that took us to another level,” said Nuttall to supersport.com
Whereas Nuttall has praised the players and the club officials, he probably deserves a lot more praise. Under Nuttall, the team has shown a creativity and variety in their play that has befuddled and confused opposing teams who simply had no answer. Gone is the “patia Sserunkuma” tactic that was prevalent in 2014. The Gor Mahia of 2015 was unpredictable and could attack teams in a variety of ways. It comes as no surprise that Kogalo have scored an incredible 54 goals with four matches left and have two players among the top four scorers in the league. Nuttall was able to identify each players strengths and harness those strengths to the maximum.
A notable absence from the Gor Mahia technical bench this past Saturday was coach Frank Nuttall. There are reports that Frank Nuttall did not go to Scotland to address family issues as earlier indicated by club officials.
An official told goal.com that Nuttall stayed away to protest non-payment of his salary
“The coach stayed away because he is not happy with the way things are happening in the club. He has gone for three months without pay and he feels he cannot continue to work under such conditions. I don’t know how long he will stay away or whether he will return for the next league match. Lets not lie to one another…Nuttall is still around (in Kenya) and never travelled to Scotland.” said an official to goal.com
Nuttall though missing from the bench did not actually go to Scotland. There is no valid reason why he would miss a match while staying within the country.
Chairman Ambrose Rachier has in the past been honest about the club’s precarious financial situation. Perhaps he should come forward and level with the fans and tell fans the plain truth regarding outstanding salaries.
Other members of the technical bench are also owed large sums. In fact coach Nuttall himself has said in past interviews that his technical staff are never paid on time. They have however continued to show plenty of enthusiasm and commitment on the sidelines, such that you would not know they are not being paid on time. .
It was a commendable performance by Gor Mahia at the 2015 CECAFA club cup. Finishing second is no easy task considering how poorly Gor Mahia played in 2014. It will provide the impetus for a better performance next time.
FKF chair Sam Nyamweya released a statement congratulating Gor Mahia.
“We salute Gor Mahia for reaching the finals of the CECAFA Kagame cup, as all Kenyans we had high expectations, read the statement.
The Performances by both teams should not dampen our spirits as we forge ahead of our next International assignments” said Nyamweya in reference to Gor Mahia and the women’s national team which narrowly lost to South Africa.
With CECAFA finished, Gor Mahia now shift focus back to the local scene. The players are still fatigued after playing a marathon six games in two weeks in the heat and humidity of Dar es Salaam.
The good news is that Gor Mahia have time to rest. The next fixture is not until Wednesday August 12 when they take on Ushuru FC.
Fixture list from KPL website
|Fri 07-08-15||17:00||City Stars vs Mathare United||Nyayo Stadium|
|Fri 07-08-15||19:15||Ushuru vs Sofapaka||Nyayo Stadium|
|Sat 08-08-15||14:00||Nakuru All Stars vs AFC Leopards||Afraha Stadium|
|Sat 08-08-15||15:00||Muhoroni Youth vs Thika United||Muhoroni Stadium|
|Sun 09-08-15||14:00||Tusker vs Western Stima||Nyayo Stadium|
|Sun 09-08-15||15:00||SonySugar vs Ulinzi Stars||Awendo Green Stadium|
|Sun 09-08-15||15:00||Bandari vs Chemelil Sugar||Mbaraki Stadium|
|Wed 12-08-15||15:00||Gor Mahia vs Ushuru||City Stadium|
|Wed 12-08-15||15:00||AFC Leopards vs Ulinzi Stars||Nyayo Stadium|
|Sat 15-08-15||16:15||KCB vs Gor Mahia||Nyayo Stadium|
|Wed 16-09-15||15:00||Gor Mahia vs SonySugar||City Stadium|
Coach Frank Nuttall will be working on ensuring that his lads get enough rest, have put their dissapointment behind them and and are in the right frame of mind to take on Ushuru FC.
“The boys did well in the tournament; they kept going in every game despite being written off and were it not for a few lapses in concentration we’d have bagged the title. We are not perfect as people may think; we still have a lot to do especially when it comes to defending set pieces.
“The two weeks were great but the tournament is now over and we have the premier league to focus on. We have a tough task there to defend the title and it is my hope that the players will recover fast from the loss and concentrate on what we have at hand,” he said.
Following the Ushur match, Gor Mahia will be in action again 3 days later when they take on fast rising KCB FC.
After the FKF refused to foot the travel bill and CECAFA declined because they are supposedly broke, Gor Mahia will now need to hold a fund-raiser to travel to Dar -es salaam for the CECAFA cup.
CECAFA chair Nicholas Musonye declined to offer financial support saying he could not make an exception.
“We are overwhelmed. They (Cecafa secretariat) told me they don’t have money. I had talks with my chairman (Leonard Tanga) and it’s impossible. Again, when all the other federations are playing their part, why would Kenya be an exception?” he asked.
“”It’s very tight on our end because we are running on a shoe-string budget. However, I must point out that I like the brand of football Gor is playing and we would want to have them in the tournament,” Musonye explained to the Daily Nation.
Club official Ronald Ngala said the club would hold a fund-raiser on Tuesday at Railway club. Nairobi businessman Sammy Wakiaga will be the chief guest. Unfortunately the club is not offering more information at this time.
In past years, the government footed the travel bill since the clubs were representing the country. Nowadays the government does basically nothing to assist clubs with travel and other issues.
Nuttall ready to apply lessons to CECAFA
Gor Mahia coach Frank Nuttall says his team has picked up the lessons from Sunday’s match against Mathare and is read to apply them when the team travels to Dar es salaam to play in the 2015 CECAFA club cup. Though Gor Mahia were adjudged to have had a sub par game by their standards, Nuttall thinks they earned the draw.
“This was a fair result since we dominated possession and also created chances managing to put one behind the net eventually,” he said after the match.
New signing Enock Agwanda was the toast of the game and fans called for him every-time there was a throw. One of his long throws eventually led to the equalizer.
“This only shows that we still have the power having more crosses into their box. Agwanda played a great role of course he is good at set pieces though it is tiring for him as he has to move from one end of the pitch to another,” said Nuttall.
It is a scene reminiscent of the legendary Tobias Ocholla “Jua Kali” who also used to be called upon by fans to criss-cross the field every-time there was a throw in.
His counterpart Stanley Okumbi for his part was dissapointed at the draw because he thought his team should have won.
“It is a match we should have won, we wanted three points against them and that is what we were working on to achieve, unfortunately we could not hold on, and ended up conceding late into the game. It has become a habit for us to concede late, and it is a trend we have to stop,” Okello said to goal.com.